Cinepub


Review: Iron Sky by Jamie

Moon Nazis! There you go. There’s a certain sub-section of film fans out there who will read those two words and try and see this film as soon as possible. And with good reason. Nazis coming from the moon is such a damn good idea that it’s hard to see exactly why it hasn’t been done before. We’ve already seen Nazi Zombies, though that probably has more to do with the unrelenting Zombie trend that the world is currently going through, and Nazi’s fighting cigar-chomping demons so it seems odd that it’s taken this long for the idea of Moon Nazis to make it to the big screen especially considering the fact that one theory for UFO sightings during WW2 was that they were secret Nazi aircraft.

Still, it has taken this long and it comes in the form of a fully crowdso0urced film. Yes, the money for this project came from the donations of people who wanted to see this thing made and why wouldn’t they? Again, Moon Nazis! The fund raising efforts were aided by the release of this early teaser trailer:

See that? Nazis on the Moon! And they’re coming back! So yeah, the idea for this film is certainly awesome. But does the finished product live up to this wicked awesome premise? Let’s find out with a quick synopsis. I’ll try and keep it spoiler free.

In the year 2018, The President of the United States (Stephanie Paul), under the advisement of her… adviser Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant) launches a new manned mission to the moon in order to help with her re-election campaign. One of the astronauts is shot when he discovers a secret Nazi Moon base on the satellites dark side. The other, a black gentleman by the name of James Washington (Christopher Kirby) is captured by the lunar fascists under suspicion of being a an Earth spy. Meanwhile Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) is a young teacher who is lecturing her students about ‘the most unpatriotic language’, English, as it’s the language they need to know for when they return to those who need their help the most. She seems to be fully devoted to the Nazi cause and more than a little brainwashed, believing that Hitler was well-liked on Earth and that Charlie Chaplin’s film ‘The Great Dictator” is a loving, short-film tribute to the Fuhrer. She also happens to be a perfect genetic match for Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto) whose ambition is to become take power from the current Moon Fuhrer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) and lead the future invasion of Earth himself.

That’s pretty much an introduction to the major players of the film and their situation at the beginning of the film. I’ll leave the rest of the story a mystery because you should probably watch the rest of the movie yourself. So yeah, spoiler alert, I enjoyed this movie. At heart the film is a satire, in particular of the extremes to which the American political process seems to go to these days. For example, the way that the American President and her adviser react to the Nazis when they make themselves known to them is all about the American parties, the Republican Party in particular and the degtree to which some people view that party as having lost it’s mind a little. The fact that the President herself is a pretty on the nose parody of Sarah Palin just drives the point home further.

Around the web I’ve seen the film compared to ‘Dr. Strangelove’ a few times and, whilst it is a fun and funny film, it is not ‘Dr. Strangelove’ good although few things are so perhaps that shouldn’t really be held against it. The film even has a little homage to Kubrick’s classic film as well as a pretty dead on parody of that scene of Hitler yelling from ‘Downfall’. If you’ve ever used YouTube, you know what scene I’m talking about.

Now, as for the negative aspects of the film, well, it’s a low budget effort so some of the acting isn’t exactly top quality tohugh that kinda helps add to the cheesy feel that a film about Moon Nazis probably should have. Yes, a film like this certainly should have a certain cheese factor to it. The first time I watched this, however, I felt a little differently. Based on that trailer above, particularly due to the music, I thought that this was going to be a serious movie about Nazis from the moon invading Earth and I was actually a little disappointed when I found out it wasn’t. Having watched the film again, however, I can say that they got the tone just right and, as the reactions to ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ have proven, sometimes a premise is so ridiculous that it can’t be taken seriously and any attempt to do so will be met with indifference or ridicule.

Overall this really was an enjoyable experience and the little film funded by fans certainly deserves to be seen by as many people as possible especially those who get excited at the phrase Moon Nazis! Four beers out of five.



Review: The Ides Of March by Jamie

I fucking love American politics, especially during election season. They’re so much more ridiculous than the humdrum British politics I have to deal with. They’re basically just a massive spectacle, every candidate bending over backwards in order to please as many people with as many different views and opinions as they possibly can. You want to appease the anti-immigration crowd whilst also trying to attract a portion of the Latino vote. And there’s also the uncompromising religiosity (Christian religiosity, of course) that, if you don’t actually believe it, at least have to pay lip service to. “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”, indeed.

So I was quite looking forward to watching ‘The Ides of March’, the George Clooney directed film about Gov. Mike Morris (Clooney), his campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and deputy campaign manager Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) as they attempt to defeat Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell) and his campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) in the Democrat primaries and win Morris the Democrat nomination for president.

As you can imagine in a taut, political drama things don’t go as smoothly as planned. Morris is unapologetically liberal, leaving him slightly unpopular with moderates and deeply unpopular with the more conservative contingent in Ohio, a problem because Ohio has an open primary meaning that registered Republicans are allowed to vote in the Democrat election. Both sides are also hoping to gain the endorsement of Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) who, with his 356 delegates, would be able to secure the nomination for either man. The only problem with this is that Morris deeply dislikes Thompson and refuses to capitulate to his demands in return for the endorsement.

That’s about all I can say about the plot without giving too much away. Suffice to say it is a well acted, well scripted and well paced political drama with the number of twists that you’d expect to see in the week of any average political campaign (See the current Republican primaries for examples). Does it, however, really say anything new about the political process? Honestly, it really doesn’t. Yes, it’s an entertaining film but the commentary it has with regards to the world of politics, it’s ability to corrupt and jade anyone who involves themselves in it for any particular length of time, is something we have pretty much all been aware of since the Watergate scandal if not longer.

Of course, this isn’t the fault of the film. Politics and power corrupts. What more can you really say about that world at this point? Does that mean that we should stop making political dramas at all? Well no. Just because it has nothing new to say doesn’t mean that The Ides of March isn’t a good film. I suppose if there is anything new that it brings to the table it’s that it makes the political process far more personal than I remember seeing before. So there’s that. Anyway, I highly recommend this film, especially if you love the tipsy-topsy world of American politics as much as I do. Four pints out of five. Laterz.



Documental: Why Democracy?: Please Vote For Me by Jamie

Ah, democracy. It’s a funny old thing. People vote and people get elected and on and on it goes. Good times. Yeah, I don’t have that much to say about democracy. It’s pretty good, I guess. Better than a dictatorship at least. Good for democracy.

Anyway, with that pointless rambling out of the way, let’s get onto the review and it’s something a bit different today. It’s a short documentary, less than an hour long in fact, and is part of a series, ‘Why Democracy?’, which was shown worldwide on the subject of democracy. I can’t say I know much about the series having never seen or heard of it before nor seeing any of the other films within the series so I’ll just say I’m sure it’s a very good series which raises many important points about worldwide democracy though I will point out that the opening claims that it is being watched by 300,000,000 viewers. That might seem impressive but keep in mind that’s not even a quarter of the world’s population. Still, whatever.

So this film is called ‘Please Vote For Me’ and it takes place in the Evergreen Primary School in Wuhan, China. It follows the first ever election for class monitor in all of China amongst a class of 8 year olds. The first candidate is Luo Lei, a boy who has been chosen by the teacher to be class monitor for the past two years and has a reputation for being quite strict when it comes to enforcing the classes rules, even going so far as to beat other children when they step out of line. The second candidate is Cheng Cheng and I can only really describe him as a real life Chinese Eric Cartman without the foul mouth. He’s very manipulative and tries to manipulate every situation to his advantage. The third and final candidate is Xu Xiaofei, a girl who is perceived as being quite shy and not particularly adept at coping with stressful situations.

The first thing you notice is just how quickly one of the candidates, Cheng, turns to dirty tactics in order to try and make the election go his way. Each of the three has to perform in a talent show and Cheng decides to tell his helpers to encourage people to boo and hiss during Xu’s performance, leading to her breaking down in a flood of tears. Whilst Xu is outside being comforted by her mother and teacher, Cheng heads outside and apologies for Luo, claiming that the entire plan was thought up by him. Devious little bastard.

Also interesting is the ways in which the parents try and help their children during the election. Luo Lei’s father is the head of the local police force and as such he organises a trip for the class on the monorail, the most up to date form of transport in the area. It also seems as though this is where Luo get’s his inspiration for his strict enforcement of the rules. Cheng’s parents help him by writing his speeches and telling him exactly how to catch put his opponents and make it seem as though they are liars. Xu’s mother is divorced and is the head of the school. She doesn’t seem to provide much of the way in tactics but helps by boosting her daughters confidence as much as she can.

I don’t want to give away the ending of the film as it’s a really interesting piece that you should probably watch it for yourself and it can probably be found fairly easily on the internet. Ah yes, here it is on YouTube. What I will say is that the film is a fascinating look at the way that the voting process works. You might think that all the mudslinging, underhanded tactics and bribing of the electorate is exaggerated because the election is being held amongst children but really, is it that different from what happens in real elections? Think about it. Yeah, deep.

All in all, I’ll say that despite it’s short length, ‘Please Vote For Me’ is a really enjoyable film and is really quite comedic in it’s look at the democratic process. I highly recommend you view it. Four pints out of five. Laterz



Last Year In Film: Milk by Jamie

As a straight, white male I don’t think I can claim that I have ever been oppressed. In fact in the entire history of my people you might have to go all the way back to the Roman invasion of Britain to even attempt to make a claim of oppression and a fairly flimsy claim it would be too. What hardships our people faced when the Romans brought us roads, sanitation and mosaics. To be fair though, they did call us wild savages and laughed when we painted our faces blue. That had to sting. Bastards.

So it’s with some trepidation that I come to Milk, the story of 70s gay rights activist and politician. It’s the same problem with films about black civil rights. I can empathise with the people in these films, be disgusted by the actions of the oppressors and I certainly believe that every one is entitled to the same rights as everyone else, regardless of race or sexual orientation but as a member of the group who’s never really had to deal with fighting for our rights, I find it kind of hard to relate to these films sometimes. Not the fault of the films of course, just a circumstance of birth.

With Milk it was even more challenging because, in general, the history of the gay civil rights movement isn’t as extensively covered as that of the black civil rights movement. I could probably name you quite an extensive list of films covering that topic but for films about the gay fight for equality, I could name two and they are both about the same person, this film and the documentary that preceded it, The Times of Harvey Milk, and I’ve only seen one of them.

Anyway, on with the film. It opens with archive footage showing the police raiding several gay bars during the 50s and 60s before going onto the story of Harvey Milk, a gay man living in New York during the early 70s on the day before his 40th birthday. A chance encounter with Scott (James Franco), a younger gay man, leads them both to move to San Francisco for a change of scene. It’s here that Harvey first develops an interest in politics and a hope for the improvement of the lives of gay people in America.

After several unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the position of city supervisor for his district, Harvey finally achieves his goal and becomes the first openly gay man elected to public office. It’s at this point that he meets Dan White (Josh Brolin) a man who he seems to get on fairly well with at first and the men come to an agreement to back each other during votes, in particular White asks Milk to support him on preventing a mental health institute from being built in his district. Harvey changes his mind after finding out more details about the proposition and White becomes determined to oppose him at every turn, leading to his own political downfall. Meanwhile Harvey goes on to greater and greater things, successfully leading the opposition to Prop 6 which would have banned gay people and those who support them from becoming teachers which further deepens Dan White’s feelings of failure. I won’t spoil the ending but if you know the true story at all, and chances are you probably do, then you know what’s coming anyway.

So what is there to say about this film? Well, the performances for one were all brilliant. From Sean Penn to Josh Brolin (who I think I’ve liked in everything I’ve seen him in since The Goonies) to every supporting character. Each actor brings something great to their role, no matter how small it is. The big question is, of course, should Sean Penn have won the Oscar for best actor? Well, I’m still not to sure about that. I’m kinda torn between him and Frank Langella as Nixon at the minute. Penn definitely deserved to be recognised for his portrayal of Harvey Milk but there’s just something that Langella brings to the former President that I feel would have been equally justified had he won the award.

Perhaps the most important thing about the film is the impact it had on me. Well, it certainly made me appreciate the struggle of the American gay community during those tumultuous times and provided me with enough history to help me understand just why the world is the way it is today and the part Harvey Milk played in that. And the ending is incredibly touching, particularly when mixed in with the archive footage. Which brings me to another good point. Throughout the film the action is interspersed with archive footage from the time and it’s far, far less jarring than the faux documentary interviews in Frost/Nixon. That being said I still think Frost/Nixon just beats Milk by a tiny margin as a slightly more enjoyable film. All in all, I certainly recommend Milk and I’ll give it four pints out of five.




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